Oct 10, 2005

Chapter 33

In the hand of the night


Mari Boine, SAMI from Norway.
She will sing for you in a moment or two.

And evermore, her song will be there,
for you, always,
in the hand of the night.

This is a message in a bottle. It will be unknown until someone finds it on a sandy beach, maybe a hundred years from now, and they will throw away the message and keep the bottle, which by then would be a collectible. The message itself may never be read, never be heeded. But it will have been sent. I can do no more.

We used to sit on Yvette’s front steps on Saturday – we were the only white people living on the Rez. We watched the tourists and the locals, taking pictures, the children pointing, the doors of the car locked, like one of those zoos where people stay in their cars and drive through.

One time a TV crew flew in 1,000 km from Montreal, but were distressed to find that these were not TV Indians. The crew handed out plastic toy bows and arrows to make the children look more the way Indians are supposed to look, and they brought a big bag of candies to bribe the children. The children threw away the insulting toys and disappeared into the forest with the candies.

That was 40 years ago, and the term for Injuns was “savages” or “les sauvages”, intended as an insult and to keep them distant; but not all that bad as far as racial insults go. “Les fleurs sauvages” are wild flowers, for example. And Indians are wild people, everyone thought. Dangerous but free.

“It amazes us that a Canadian official would indulge in such bloodlust,” Dan Mathews, senior vice-president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told the Toronto Star.

“It sounds like she’s trying to give Canadians an even more Neanderthal image around the world than they already have.”


You let the mask slip, and the face of the Beast was revealed, and now everybody knows. “Bloodlust” you said.

The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The sins of the fathers are visited on the children even unto the 7th generation.

Mary Simon, President of the Inuit across Canada, and Michaelle Jean, Governor General, were invited by the Inuit to an Inuit feast in an Inuit village to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Inuit being allowed to vote for an Inuit local government in Inuit territory, so guess what they ate? They ate Inuit food. Raw seal meat. They could have ordered out for pizza and Kentucky Fried Chicken, but they thought it more appropriate to serve real Inuit food, what with them being Inuit and all.

But no one took into account the tender sensibilities of progressive community activists, or fund-raising hypocrites, in Toronto.

Many of the names of places in Canada were given to the white explorers by the native people, as a joke. There are 50 native languages in Canada (yes, fifty) but the white people were fighting over French and English, and never understood what the hell the natives were saying. For example, “Toronto” was originally a Huron village. The elders and chiefs pronounced it “Tow-Ronn-Tow” whereas the rank-and-file Hurons pronounced it “Toh-Rahhn-Nah”. Either way, it is the ancient Huron phrase for “Place Where the Mind Narrows”.

“Awwt-tahh-wahh” is Iroquois for “Place Where Words Have No Meaning”.

So the Toronto Star, which, for example, never found space in 30 years to talk about the forced relocation of the Killiniq Inuit, suddenly found plenty of space to begin the big intellectual debate: are the Inuit of Canada “Neanderthals” full of “bloodlust”? Representatives of European countries added in that it was “bizarre, sick and disgusting” that Canadians would eat raw seal meat. And the European Union voted to outlaw, to make illegal, to boycott, most of the products that Canadian Inuit can export.

“Neanderthal”. It goes beyond racism. Wop, Kike, Wetback, Frog, Kraut, Jap, Spic.., – these are racist words, but each race is still considered human. “Nigger” is much worse because the word is attached to slavery, when humans were treated as if they were not human.

But Neanderthal means that the Inuit never were and can never be human. Neanderthals are an extinct species. They were not fully human beings; they were genetically inferior; below humans but above monkeys. To call a race of people “Neanderthals” means they are not part of our society at all; they are not human, and so there is no moral problem in treating them like dogs. And where have we heard this language before? Words like “bloodlust” and “subhuman”?

Every genocide, every imperialist onslaught. It is only a generation or two since European countries lost their empires. Britain, France, Spain and Portugal had massive empires; but even tiny Belgium and Holland committed atrocities in their colonies. For centuries Europe built expertise in exploiting other countries, convincing themselves that it was okay - the culture they were destroying was of no value. Finally, Europe created the two major political methods of the past century: totalitarian communism and totalitarian fascism; which killed millions of people. Inuit, who for 4,000 years lived without a government at all, did not get into the habit of attacking other nations and then telling them what they are allowed to eat.

And instead of saying “in our opinion, people should not buy products from Canada’s Inuit” and we could say “Our opinion is different,” the nations of Europe passed a law making our exports illegal because they know the Inuit cannot hit back. It’s the politics of raw power.

France sold jet fighters to both Israel and the Arab countries, profiting from war, and Germany exported nuclear technology to Iran and Pakistan. They can export death, while telling the Inuit to stop exporting the food and clothing of life.

Mari Boine tells how it was, in Arctic Norway, when the new people arrived:

How to Be a Lordly People: First men came with Bibles. Then men came with brandy. And then men came with bayonets

Then they changed the Bible, and the bayonets are again aimed at the hearts of the native people. Jesus is no longer a super-star in Europe or America, so the fashionable people have jettisoned that Bible to follow a new one; they now believe that “Meat is Murder”. Ecology is the new religion, and they are the self-appointed village priests, pointing the moral finger at the bad people. A religion of the rich and strong repressing the poor and the weak. Seems that Jesus guy had it all backwards.

They get their food in big buildings called stores - they have bloodless meat in little packages that is obviously not meat from an animal. They probably make it by melting down all the plastic bags you are no longer allowed to use. Or, you can get a Big Mac at McDonald’s and not have to shoot anything. And the tiny packages of salt are free.

We must teach the native people the typical Canadian gourmet meal: Take 10 lbs of potatoes, 10 lbs of turnips, and 10 lbs of the cheapest meat you can find; boil for 10 hours until it’s mush that tastes like nothing; serve with white bread and milk.

If you came this far you must have a reason. So don’t screw it up now. You MUST listen to Mari’s song: I promised her you would; and you MUST turn it up loud and you MUST look into her face deeply. And then play it a second time. At the end – pre-verbal; it is in the pre-verbal that we are most often wounded and need to heal – below intellect, below concept, below emotions – right down to the pre-verbal sensations.. Mari goes there.

Is this actually what they are afraid of, this ancient spirit? If she suddenly walked in to one of their meetings, they would piss in their Calvin Kleins, drop their I-pods and Blackberries; and run. She is the real thing living in the real world; they are temporarily fashionable in Babylon.

Are you sure that you have a lot to teach her and she has nothing to teach you? Her people lived in your northland for 4,000 years; and you are going to teach HER TRIBE the proper way to live in a frozen desert, a place where you would not survive?

Question: You were told, very young, to eat vegetables and fruit every day. Right? In my school it was even called “Canada’s Health Rules”. Well, in Arctic Canada – and that’s 40% of Canada, you can’t grow fruits or vegetables. There may be moss on the rocks, and some very tiny flowers, sometimes a few extremely tiny berries, but forget about growing anything. White men died of scurvy on a single voyage across the ocean, because of a lack of vitamins. So how did Inuit survive 4,000 years where nothing grows?

The Answer: Seals. The only mammal that gives you the vitamins and that Omega stuff other dietary stuff that you need. The survival of the Inuit for the past 4,000 years was made possible by their close connection with seals.

“It is interesting to note that cardiovascular disease is rare in Inuit people who continue to eat their traditional diet. How can eating a diet predominantly consisting of seal meat, fat and blubber and almost completely devoid of greens, fruits and fibre be preventative for the disease that plagues the Western world, and for which medical orthodoxy blames on diets high in saturated fats and cholesterol?” - Dr. Gerry Bohemier

We never will know if we crush the Inuit lifestyle. Should we not at least find out what they know before we destroy them? If I went to downtown Toronto and announced that I come from a tribe that has no cancer, and it is because of things in our diet and our spirits and our lifestyle, I suppose they would send me away if I am not one of them. So let’s shut down the Inuit and raise millions of dollars for the Canadian Heart Foundation and spend billions of dollars for hospitals and doctors but let’s not figure out how come the Inuit – with no science or anything - nailed this sucker down a few thousand years ago. (According to some, not all, doctors.)

We spend billions a year to fight cardio disease, which kills 1,500,000 Americans a year, and as many Europeans, and we have living in our country a race of people who are said by some scientists to have fixed that thousands of years ago by eating seals, and so what do we tell them? STOP EATING THE SEALS. That’s what we tell them. And then we have a heart attack.

This is much worse than stupid. If you were more stupid than this, you would not know how to breath and walk at the same time. There is no word for this in the English language, except the internet slogan: WTF?

You hear that banging sound/ Yeah, that’s Canadians banging their heads against the wall.

Now, you are entitled to have the opinion that killing seals is bad. But you have no right whatsoever to declare that the Inuit must change until they are the same as you; you have no right to tell them that meat is murder, UNTIL FIRST you shut down every McDonald’s, every Burger King, every store selling meat, every cattle ranch, every slaughterhouse, every sausage factory, every butcher shop, and make trading in meat a violation of the law in your own country, THEN AND ONLY THEN you can start lecturing the Inuit. The animals your hamburgers and hot dogs come from, your bratwurst and your steak; live a much worse life than the animals that live in freedom; and very, very few of the wild ones get killed, compared to 100% of the animals living behind bars on their way to your freezer. Eliminate meat entirely from your own country before you appoint yourself as the moral guardian who will reform Canada’s sea people.

Mari Boine’s people are meat eaters, as are all tribes in the Circumpolar alliance. SAMI eat reindeers instead of seals, and the baby animals are not cute enough to attract third-rate movie stars. You have not earned the right to tell Mari what to eat or how to live. You have not earned the right to impose your latest fad on her. You have not even earned the right to get down on your knees and wash her feet.

She is a hundred floors above you in the Tower of Life.

In the hand of the night, with thousands of years of life woven into it.

The song of the permanence of rocks combined with the song of our temporary lives; the song of what we see combined with the song of the unseen. The art of Mari Boine, who sings of her people, the people of the reindeer.

frost winter and cold
summer with burning hot days
joy with hearty laughter
sorrow with oceans of salty tears
night owl with limitless vision
In the hand of the night

No comments: